I was raised, like many people in the western world, with a strong emphasis of structuring my life, taking control, and applying discipline.
In many cases this works and is rewarded; it becomes a pattern and even more: a personal conviction of how everything works. When we become manager then the natural flow is that we convince others to act exactly as we do ourselves: 'because it works'.
But in many cases this pattern blocks us in other situations, and even becomes counterproductive. When we force our structure on the world we take away the possibilities of others; to find their own way, to take ownership, to influence and be proud of the learning they achieved. We should therefore be careful about applying structure and seek for new ways of control; harvesting the diversity of the people we live and work with. And we should also rely more on our powerful subconscious.
Recent studies show that our unconscious or subconscious is much more powerful than our ratio. We can only manipulate 6 or 7 elements at the same time in our mind, and many decisions or actions require much more. Often starting to think is not the way to get the best result. For example a person playing a tennis match starts thinking when things go wrong. In fact, in his/her body there is a subconscious that knows how to play a ball in the direction and way he/she wants. Thinking might even get more focus on each part of the movement, and reduce the natural flow, and therefore frustrate the required movement.
In this art concept I try to shut down my filters and activate my unconscious. It teaches me to rely more on my 'feeling' and see the powerful results of this approach; paintings seem extremely diverse: paint, patterns, colors etc. but there is still an overarching sense of harmony created by my unconscious. The paintings form the theatre where my unconscious decides to show itself, and pattern can be recognized just like in dreams.
Creativity and inspiration
1. Lack of inspiration
Inspiration by itself does not correspond to a clear definition, it is not easy to visualise or specified.
It becomes more evident at the moment that we experience a lack of energy. We have no inspiration.
Inspiration is about breaking out of the structures. Am I able to create, influence, co-operate and build in the way I would like. Are there some constraints that hold me away from this. Other people, my daily job, the way I have organised my social environment, the way I have accepted the system in which I live.
Another topic is how to inspire others.
This is an important theme in many environments: raising children, managing people, creative arts.
Let’s explore the topic some further.
2. Direction, boundaries and support
When discussing with many people in different context the meaning of inspiration I became aware that ideas on this topic are universal. My background is from leadership vs. management (from a.o. John P. Kotter and Jim Collins )
Management > The manager digests the work, splits it in little pieces and gives everyone a small piece. This is exactly what needs to be delivered and within a given time frame.
Leadership > The leader sets (based on interaction with clients etc.) a clear direction. The leader clearly defines the area for which you are responsable. Then he/she supports you, when needed, to go into the direction that was defined.
Which one would you prefer ?
3. How to solve lack of inspiration
From the definition above I learnt that a lack of inspiration results from: no idea of where I want/need to go, no clear boundaries within which I need to create or live, no support for the problems I meet on the way going somewhere.
The ways for me to solve this issue, which pops up now and then is:
> check if the direction I thought I was going is still okay and clear.
> lateral thinking (Edward de Bono) - try to redefine your problem by using another direction to approach: take an image of something and try to see what the problem would look like in that case. If I imagine I would be a car that had no fuel, where should I look ?
> limit myself. Creativity in painting can be stimulated by limiting myself in the number of colors, the material or the concept I want to work with. It becomes easier to direct my energy.
Inspiration theory is linked to many issues in life; how to raise children, how to manage people, how to have the energy to produce art.
If we are not inspired, generally one or more of the following are true:
> we do not have a clear sense of direction
> our own role or approach is not clearly defined
> we feel not enough supported or do not have the right means or skils to feel in control.
My opinion is that the main role of managers should be to inspire their people.
I see it also as my role in raising my kids, co-operating with colleagues, living with my dearest.
It certainly is not easy.
Systemic versus organic
1. Image of sadness
Sadness is the state of mind when we can not see opportunities
I like the Dutch philosoper Arnold Cornelis.
He explains that the ultimate image of sadness is a child sitting down in the forrest, crying. The child does not see the way out.
The idea is that there are ways to get out of the forest. But the child can not see them.
If we do not see our own opportunities we will not be happy.
If you stay at home thinking you will never meet nice people, in fact you are being caught in your own thinking.
A self fulfilling prophecy, in fact.
2. Deduction vs Induction
Our habit of analysis and deducing reduces the opportunities that we experience.
As human beings we are trained to analyse. in fact, all information that we collect would drive us crazy if we would not filter them. Filtering based on conscious and unconscious assumption, deduction and analysis.
There is nothing wrong with deduction. My concepts are the result of deduction. It helps me to keep a good overview of life. To keep things simple, when it appears complex.
I am aware that deduction sometimes reduces opportunities. Takes away my energy.
When I feel this I use induction. I could make a list of all the things I could do. Deactivating my automatic filter.
Options that were excluded at first could become interesting after all.
3. Internalistic vs externalistic
On the long run adapting to the external world makes life easier than when you try to put the world into your structure.
Internalistic people try to change the world to fit their ideas. These people are important to analyse and solve issues. To achieve and change anything.
Externalistic people adapt their behaviour to the world outside. They will accept things external to themselves and find the best way to live with it.
My nature is very internalistic. It’s why I can be succesful in planning projects, working with many people towards a result.
When I see anything that does not match my expectations I need my externalistic self. I need to explore, and if I can not change it now I will find a way to work around it.
I need to consciously stimulate my externalistic nature to deal with my hurdles in life.
I need to keep that part of my internalistic self to change things and to achieve results that would not happen otherwise.
I am interested in your own perception of this concept.
Do you recognise the same parts into your own character ?
Is it useful to reflect on this topic ?
What do you feel when you meet unexpected negative surprises ?
You feel your chest ? your breething changes ?
In these cases, what do you do ? Next time ?
1. Which part of eachother do we percieve ?
Several things make it difficult to really know eachother.
> We hide part of ourselves based on the social context and norms that we are part of
> We are hardly ever present, really listening
> We put behaviour and people in boxes. One person we put in the "annoying" box, another in the "friend" box. As this happens unconsciously we do not re-evaluate these boxes. Everything some person does we only see if it fits the box.
> We hide whatever we are afraid of. We are afraid of what others might think.
This is part of our nature or context.
2. Respect and Exploring
I am a real fan of many books of Edward de Bono. One I read recently was "How to have a beautiful mind".
He brings together many of his earlier ideas.
It is important to respect and to listen. Being able to agree (even if it is in part of what the other person says) is an art. Basic idea is that nobody is stupid. Different opinions are based on:
> different values
> different information
> different experience
One other thing is to sometimes reset your boxes.
In what box did I put this person ?
Should I reconsider based and may be re-do the boxing ?
3 Really listening
During part of my life I became quite effective. I thought I had the answer to several problems. How I should approach management, how I should do certain projects.
Even I knew for others how they should do it or should have done it. This winners behaviour kept me from really listening. I almost knew what was wrong before someone started to speak.
In general when we are full of something we tend to forget to listen.
We stop exploring the other persons issues. Or the beauty that can be found inside the other person.
Shut up, Maurice !
We only see part of eachother.
When we are full of something, enthousiastic or dissappointed we do not really listen.
We interrupt eachother so much that, in fact nothing of what is said remains.
How much time do I listen in conversations ?
How many times am I just waiting for someone to finish, just so I can start talking ?
Be patient. Listen. Explore the beautiful side of others.
Look the other into the eyes.
1. Types of learning
There are different ways of learning : horizontal and vertical.
Often when you talk about learning it is about horizontal learning; learning more on the same level.
> after a course in Word we take a course Excel.
> we learn a new practical task at work.
> the next painting we make is just an extension of the previous.
The opposite is learning on a new level.
To try to identify where your current level of skills is a constraint for being effective.
2. Friction and vertical learning
In general learning on a new level requires us to be aware that we need to change our behaviour. It means realising that our current behaviour is not good. Of most behaviour we are unaware. Also behavior that limits our wellbeing has often become part of our own system.
So, how do I know then when I can learn ? When do I have to learn ?
The only way we can become aware is by sensing friction. Feeling things are not working, being stressed, having a dry throat,
shivering, tension in our shoulders.
What do I do in such a case ? Where to get the energy to start changing behavior ?
When I started to be aware of this mechanism I was surprised to find an expression related to Tao:
"When we feel pain we are just before the moment that we can learn something important about ourselves."
Keeping this in mind and the experience of learning from the first painful moments provides me the energy to continue changing. Improving my self.
Important, like with psychology, is to get a good perception of where I am not having the right approach or behaviour.
- to get feedback may be from others that we trust
- to observe how others behave in this type of situations.
- getting a book on the topic. Read small parts and use it to reflect.
Most important, I define my new behaviour.
When I will do it and keep reflecting each week on my progress.
It is important not only to learn more of the same, but to learn on a new level.
When we experience pain we are close to learning something important about ourselves.
I use this to improve.
When did I feel uncomfortable today ?
What was it in me that made me feel like this ?
Do I have this feeling more often ?
Can I see what is really happening in these cases ?
Where to get additional input on what I should change ?
Did I really change behaviour ? And did I do well ?
What is my ultimate goal in life ?
I would say that I try to become a 'good' person. When I was around 27 I was reading a lot about philosophy, psychology and science; I started reading small parts of books frequently, and used it to reflect on my personal situation, on those elements of my life that I felt could be 'improved' - where I could be a more beautiful person.
Later I discovered this could and probably should also be the direction for my paintings. I started each time transforming 'things I wanted to improve' into a new process of making art. It helped to internalise and almost 'digest' the change.
In addition I used psychological theories that say that 'knowledge directs perception'. As an example: when I just bought a new car, suddenly I saw more of those cars around me, everywhere. Things that we are focused on we also observe more. I therefore trusted that making paintings in a way that associates with 'improving' will help me to observe it more often and actually internalise in my way of acting and doing.
On this page I highlighted some of my concepts...they are all close to my heart.
More about concepts on the Blog